KwaMakhutha massacre

Magnus Malan

General Magnus André De Merindol Malan (born January 30, 1930 in Pretoria ) is a former Minister of Defence (in the cabinet of President P. W. Botha), Chief of the South African Defence Force (SADF) and Chief of the South African Army.

Early life

Malan's father was a professor of Biochemistry at the University of Pretoria and later a Member of Parliament and Speaker of the House of Assembly. He started his high school education at the Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool but later moved to Dr Danie Craven’s Physical Education Brigade in Kimberley, where he completed his matriculation. He wanted to join the South African armed forces immediately after his matric, but his father advised him first to complete his university studies. As a result of this advice, Malan enrolled at the University of Stellenbosch in 1949 to study for a Bachelor of Commerce degree. However, he later abandoned his studies in Stellenbosch and went to University of Pretoria, where he enrolled for a B.Sc. Mil. degree. He graduated in 1953.

Military career

Malan was earmarked for high office from early on in his military career; one of the many courses he attended was the Regular Command and General Staff Officers Course in the United States of America from 1962 to 1963. He went on to serve as commanding officer of various entities, including South-West Africa Command, the South African Military Academy and Western Province Command.

In 1962 Malan married Magrietha Johanna van der Walt; the couple had two sons and one daughter.

In 1973 he was appointed as Chief of the South African Army and three years later as Chief of the South African Defence Force (SADF).

As Chief of the SADF he implemented many administrative changes that earned him great respect in military circles. During this period he became very close to P.W. Botha, the then Minister of Defence and later Prime Minister.

Political career

In October 1980 Botha appointed Malan Minister of Defence in the National Party government, a post he held until 1991. As a result of this appointment he joined the National Party and became the Member of Parliament for Modderfontein. He was also elected to be a member of the Executive Council of the National Party.

In July 1991, following a scandal involving secret government funding to the Inkatha Freedom Party and other opponents of the African National Congress, President FW de Klerk removed Malan from his influential post as Minister of Defence and appointed him as Minister for Water Affairs and Forestry.

A Fast Attack Craft of the South African Navy was named after him prior to the change of government in 1994.

On December 21, 1988 Malan was booked to travel on Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York, as part of a South African delegation of 23 negotiators to sign an agreement at UN headquarters, whereby South Africa would cede control of Namibia and hand over the country to the UN, as demanded by the Security Council. At short notice, the whole South African delegation cancelled the booking on that flight, which crashed at Lockerbie, Scotland killing all 259 people on board and eleven people on the ground.

After Politics

On November 2, 1995 Malan was charged together with other former senior military officers for murdering 13 people (including seven children) in the KwaMakhutha massacre in 1987. The murders were said to have been part of a conspiracy to create war between the African National Congress (ANC) and the Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), and maintaining white minority rule. The charges related to an attack in January 1987 on the home of Victor Ntuli, an ANC activist, in KwaMakhutha township near Durban in KwaZulu-Natal.

Malan and the other accused were bailed and ordered to appear in court again on December 1, 1995. A seven-month trial then ensued and brought hostility between black and white South Africans to the fore once again. All the accused were eventually acquitted. President Mandela supported the verdict and called on South Africans to respect it.

Malan also had to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

On January 26, 2007, he was interviewed by shortwave/Internet talk radio show The Right Perspective. It is believed to be one of, if not the only, interviews Gen. Malan has given outside of South Africa.


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